Each year, Johnstown Magazine highlights some of the brave individuals who faced a breast cancer diagnosis and plowed their way through.
At 27, Nicole Holdosi made regular gynecological exams part of her heath regimen. But last year her reason for wanting to see the doctor was different.
Through self-examination she had discovered a lump in her breast and knew that she needed to have a mammogram. But the receptionist at her doctor’s office misunderstood and scheduled her for a Pap test instead. Nicole believes the receptionist probably was not used to someone so young requesting a mammogram.
Nicole was not to be put off and soon had her appointment for a mammogram.
She was immediately sent for an ultrasound.
The results confirmed what her gut feeling had been telling her. This was serious.
Just after Christmas, Nicole was diagnosed with HER2+ breast cancer, Stage 2.
“They wanted me to enjoy my holidays so they waited to tell me,” she says.
She had a biopsy and started chemotherapy in January.
Those were not easy days and Nicole is emotional when she speaks about that time. She recalls how sick she felt and how traumatizing it was to go to appointments alone due to the pandemic.
Thankfully, Nicole had her last chemotherapy treatment in May.
In June, she had a bilateral mastectomy with reconstruction. Her radiation treatments are nearly over and she is proud to announce that she is in remission.
She credits her medical oncology team, especially Dr. Ibrahim Sbeitan and Dr. Renee Arlow, for their good care.
After her diagnosis, Nicole decided to leave her place of employment and focus on her health and her children: 5-year-old Kylie and 3-year-old Wyatt.
She enjoys singing, photography and hunting.
Nicole says she used hunting as a form of personal therapy and self-love during her breast cancer ordeal.
“Going hunting helped relieve stress and my kids helped take my mind off of things.”
She says her partner and the children’s father, Stephen, was a great support to her.
“Being sick in front of my family was the hardest thing to do,” she says.
Once she began to feel more comfortable speaking out about her diagnosis, Nicole was surprised to learn how much support she had. She says the love she received from people through social media was a boost to her spirits.
Nicole wants to help women get through breast cancer and offers the following advice: “Always pay attention to your body, because you are your own body advocate.”